Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Response to Edutopia: Does teaching high performing and low performing students together benefit both?

I don't have full research to back it up and it's only my own classroom experience, but, Mixed classes are a huge challenge. In order to facilitate teaming and integration in the Middle School/Junior High I worked in a decision was made to place all of the Special Education students together on the same team. This meant that one teacher got all of the Special Ed. Students. That teacher was me. Now, maybe I lacked imagination or was just a lousy teacher, but my average scores for the end of level Criterion Referenced Tests were consistently lower than the teachers who didn't have Special Education students. Even when the Special Ed. student scores were pulled out.

Again, the argument can be made (and usually is by legislators who want to blame all educational failures on bad teachers) that I was simply a poorer teacher than the other teachers. But what I saw from my perspective was that I had to modify whole assignments not just for the Special Ed. Students but for the whole class. Students who were able to do more and work faster were often held back either because their energy was going in to helping Special Ed. Students or compensating for their lacks during cooperative learning activities.

Politically it isn't very well liked to group kids by ability levels but practically it is much more productive. It is ideal when each individual student can have individual pacing, but reality dictates that we teach groups of students. Teaching groups makes more sense if those students are grouped similarly as far as demonstrated ability.

In my ideal world these groups or classes would not exist in isolation but would be brought together for some activities and projects but then be pulled out for advanced or remedial instruction as necessary.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Have you seen this man?

Have you seen this man? He is a cyberbully

Now, he doesn't mean to be a cyberbully but if you have read this blog in the past. You know that he can be really mean. It isn't intentional. I can vouch for his motives. They are pure. He wants to be funny, well liked, even a positive influence for good in the cyberworld.

He just puts his foot (or rather keyboard) in his mouth. (I think that others may want to put either their foot or that keyboard somewhere else.... but... that's why this post)

Trying to convey dry/sarcastic humor via the internet is nearly impossible. My friend Jared (@covili) and I were at NECC09 and through a perfectly normal series of events (No sarcasm or humor intended...seriously) I had a less than great experience at the White House. I wrote about it. I figured folks would take it for what it was just a long drawn out rant about the silliness of being stuck in a situation I could do nothing about. Apparently that wasn't so much the case. It was received poorly. I was informed face to face of this.

So, sorry. No harm meant. Not trying to be a cyberbully just pointing out the silliness that can sometimes happen in life. None of it was Jared's fault at all.

I guess, I really am learning. Just not fast enough.


I have a couple of partings words about NECC. It was a terrific! I liked it! In the future though, I will definitely plan better. There were a couple of this I should have done to enjoy the conference better:
  • Arrive early: I wish I had been there on Saturday for the EduBlogCon and to do some sightseeing
  • Don't Stay Late: In order to see all of the final session we stayed over until Thursday. I was so tired that all I did was sit in the hotel and blog and miss my family. I didn't get any sightseeing done that we thought we could do that day (See previous bullet)
  • Plan Sessions Early: I missed the online registration for the Bring Your Own Laptop Sessions so I missed out on several I would have like to got to
  • Have a plan of attack for Vendors: I could have gotten some effective personal and professional development if I had planned what I wanted to see at the Vendors area.
  • Plan meet ups: I really wanted to meet some of the people I interact with online. I tried the Tweet Up Meet Up and I did not do well. I should have planned some people to meet and set up plans for a session together, lunch or to meet at a Vendor's booth.
  • Leave some time unstructured: I should have left one afternoon open to do whatever came up. To wander the vendor's area, visit the blogger's cafe, or just chat with people I meet.
I think that if I get to go to ISTE2010 I will enjoy it even more, I will bring back more than I did this year at NECC09.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Resonance in the Echo Chamber my Final thoughts on NECC '09

On of the very legitimate and accurate criticisms of developing online communities is that rather than being global and diverse they actually become rather homogenous. NECC emphasized that for me. This phenomenon is know as the Echo Chamber effect. We tend to connect with people online who echo our own perceptions and beliefs, we tend to seek validation. I prefer the term resonance and you will see why in a bit.

Resonance occurs when any object is vibrated at a frequency that matches the properties of that object. It is this trait that allows us to resonate water molecules with microwaves and to break wine glasses with sound. A dramatic example of resonance occurs when you put salt, rice, sugar or sand over a speaker:

Resonance allows for natural grouping. NECC is a conference full of other teachers who also are adopters of technology. Very validating! And very valuable!!! We need the validation and to find better ways of doing what we are doing!

The reason I prefer the term resonance is because I also am a firm proponent of dissonance. Cognitive dissonance must happen for people to feel compelled to understand. We want so badly to make learning comfortable, relaxed and warm that we fail to realize that unless we are confronted with the very real possibility that we are wrong we don't bother to consider new information. If you notice in the video the rice goes through stages. Periods where the whole is thrown into chaos. We need this. The pattterns can't emerge if the pattern is left undisturbed.

I loved this conference because it resonated with me. I also need some dissonance. Something to shake me up to make me reconsider. Something that will allow new patterns to develop.

Thanks NECC 09

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My trip to the White house or Why I sometimes want to wrap my friends in a blanket and beat them with Rubber Hose.

Ok, I already ranted about my tweet up meet up and some of the things that went wrong there. I decided that I really need to give a play by play of my day.

This morning I got up a little earlier than usual, and headed down to the conference. I had made some appointments to meet a couple of people I tweet with. They were in the exhibitors area which I didn't know didn't open until 9:30 a.m. soo.... I headed off to one of the 8:30 a.m. sessions (PlacePuzzles) While in the session I got a reminder from Jared, "Hey are we heading off to the White House after this, I want to get their early" We had appointments for an 11:00 a.m. tour at the White House. I txted back "Let's talk, I need to see a couple of people in the exhibits"

So, our discussion after the session went something like this:

"We can't take cell phones"
"Ok, I'll drop mine at the hotel after I leave the exhibits"
"Ok, I am going to head right down there"
"I'll only be 10 minutes behind you wait for me at the entrance"

Now for the timeline and map

View White House Tour in a larger map

9:45 Said "See you later to Jared"
9:50 Visited @edu4u
9:55 Visited @edutopia
10:00 Out of the Conference Center
10:08 Arrive at Hotel on 12th and K
10:13 Left Hotel proceeded down 12th toward Pennsylvania Ave.
10:13-10:17 continue crossing streets and avenues toward Pennsylvania Ave.
10:20 make it to Pennsylvania!
10:35 make it to Entrance for White House Tour
10: 36 get to front of line and ask about tour and if there is anywhere else Jared and wife could be waiting
10:36:30 Find out someone has mispelled my name and I am not on the list
10:36:35 Asked by Secret Service Agents (yes Agents) to please step aside
10:36:45 Sequestered behind iron bar barrier (ok 1 person could move 2 of them one hand each but...still "Please step behind the iron barrier" aack)
10:42 Secret Service Agent asks for Name, Birthday, Social Security Number, Driver's License, Teacher's License Number, Fingerprints, Hair sample and DNA Sample (Ok, only the first two but come on this is the Secret Service)
10:43 Note to self that the Secret Service Agents have not mentioned whether I could leave if I chose
10:44 Continuing to note that I have not been notified whether I could just walk away.
10:47 Couple with iPhone uses it to review their confirmation number with Secret Service agent. Agent enters the building to Check information
10:49 Couple's information has been found they are ushered in Cell Phone and all.
10:50 Begin wondering what will happen to me if they think I am "fishy"
10:51 Begin second guessing every decision, website, and person I've spoken too since leaving UTAH...pretty sure that the NECC site is ok, wondering if they will look at my NECC Blog?
10:53 continue fretting
10:55 Washington D.C. Police arrive confer with the Secret Service, Decision is made to move the entire line further away from the White House apparently POTUS is on the grounds
10:56 fret more, wondering if it will hurt when the 4 agents who are my only company tackle me to the hot asphalt
10:59 People from the now distanced line begin arriving and announcing they are here for 11:00 a.m. Tour
11:00 Tour Group trickles in one other person joins me
11:01 They take his information
11:02 Realize his name was reversed on the list (last name and first name)
11:02:30 Other guy goes in.
11:03 begin fretting in earnest realize I have no idea what they are doing, looking for or whether I will be allowed to leave. Only Company are 4 Secret Service Agents, 2 Washington D.C. Officers and A National Park Services Ranger (all have weapons)
11:05-11:08 moving from fretting to anxiety. Various worries about Guantanomo, solitary confinement and just what the Secret Service are allowed to do.
11:08 Agent announces they will be locking Gate at 11:15 Hope rises maybe they will just turn me away and I will be safe.
11:11 Hope dashed Agent informs me that it will only be a few more minutes. Fret some more
11:12 Cursing Jared under my breath "He said he would wait, huh like one hog at the trough for another"
11:13 Agent Returns
11:14 Agent Verifies license again
11:15 Agent notifies me that since I wasn't on the list they ran another background check and I am going to be allowed in
11:16 enter White House Tour
11:17 Notice an unusual lack of supervision wonder what all the fuss is if no one is going to watch me inside
11:18 Catch up to the group and notice the prevalence of Cell phones with cameras. Curse Jared again "He said no recording devices... better leave your phone... if he would have had his..."
11:41 Realize that essentially the White House Tour is 3 rooms Green, Blue, Red and a room 'similar' to the oval office
11:42 Exit White House
12:00 arrive back at Conference Center
12:01 Fume and plot my revenge against Jared

Web of the Week Wednesday: ISTE

Web Address:

UEN is spending the week at the National Educational Computing Conference.  This is the annual conference for the International Society for Technology in Education.  If you haven't visited their site or don't know about what ISTE does and is now would be a great time to take a look into them.  The Conference has been officially renamed to the ISTE Conference for 2010 year and will be held in Denver, Colorado.

Welcome to Jorgie Learning

I really am learning and this blog is maintained both as a record of some of what I am doing as well as a place for me to train and teach others about creating an online presence. So please don't mind the dust. We aren't remodeling we are learning!

Visit some of my other blogs or the other blogs I find mildly entertaining for a more polished feel.